1. A year ago an ‘Open Letter for the People of Gaza’ was published by The Lancet, and endorsed online by 20,000 signatories. Subsequently published correspondence reflected both support for and opposition to the letter.
2. Four months ago a complaint co-signed by nearly 400 people was sent to Reed Elsevier, The Lancet‘s publisher, demanding that the letter be retracted, and attacking The Lancet’s editor and some of the co-authors of the letter.
3. Our response to this complaint has been co-signed by over 1300 clinicians and scientists. We noted that neither The Lancet’s ombudsman nor a former chair of the Committee On Publication Ethics found any grounds for retracting the letter.
4. An editorial on the issue was published in The BMJ on 16th May 2015, co-authored by Professor John Yudkin (University College London) and Professor Jennifer Leaning (Harvard University). This prompted further debate, which is the purpose of public commentary on controversial issues.
5. The Lancet and its editor, Dr Richard Horton, received many expressions of support.
6. The Open Letter has not been withdrawn and stands, with subsequent correspondence, as a document of public record and comment. Our understanding is that this will remain the case.
7. We thank everyone who has written in defence of freedom of expression and in support of our response to the complaint made to Reed Elsevier.